'Top man! Beers for everyone if you can': What firefighter texted police officer after he agreed to try and get £400 criminal damage charge dropped

  • Firefighter Shey Watkins, 36, and police officer Byron Emerson-Thomas, 42, exchanged series of text messages
  • Watkins, a firefighter for 12 years, was accused of causing criminal damage last year, and contacted Emerson-Thomas, whom he had met on holiday
  • Officer approached a colleague and asked him to get the case dropped
  • Both men were sentenced to four weeks in prison for perverting the course of justice and Emerson-Thomas was sentenced to an additional two weeks for his misuse of the police computer system

By Anna Edwards

|

A firefighter promised a police officer 'beers for everyone' if he could prevent criminal damage charges being brought against him, a court heard.

A series of text messages exchanged between firefighter Shey Watkins, 36, and police officer Byron Emerson-Thomas, 42, last October have landed the pair in prison for perverting the course of justice.

When Watkins, who had been a firefighter for 12 years, was accused of causing criminal damage last year, he decided to contact the police officer he had met on holiday several years previously.

Byron Emerson-Thomas approached a colleague in Cardiff and asked him to get the case dropped
Shey Watkins

Byron Emerson-Thomas (left) approached a colleague in Cardiff and asked him to get the case dropped against firefighter Shey Watkins

Firefighter Shey Watkins admitted in an interview with the police that he caused damage to his ex-partner's home and received a caution.

David Webster, prosecuting, told Newport Crown Court yesterday that Watkins had asked the officer if he knew of anyone who could 'have a word' with the investigating officer dealing with his case.

In response, Emerson-Thomas, who resigned from South Wales Police last November, said: 'I’ll speak to my mate.'

His friend replied: 'Top man! Beers for everyone if you can.'

 

The police officer then approached a colleague in Cardiff and asked him to get the case dropped. When interviewed by police after his arrest, Emerson-Thomas said he had been 'bragging' to make himself seem more important. The second officer confirmed he had received the message, but had taken no further action.

The court heard Emerson-Thomas had also used a police database to make 14 unauthorised inquiries, which allowed him to access confidential information about friends, family and celebrities.

Co-defendants Shey Watkins (left) and Byron Matthew Emerson-Thomas pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice

Co-defendants Shey Watkins (left) and Byron Matthew Emerson-Thomas pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice

David Elias, defending the police officer, conceded his actions had been 'foolish', but claimed they had no 'sinister significance' and were prompted by his obsessive compulsive disorder, which caused him to become 'bored' at work.

During a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on May 8, Emerson-Thomas, of  Cowbridge, admitted misusing the police system, but both men denied perverting the course of justice and a trial date was set for September 9.

But Watkins, from Blaenavon, changed his plea to guilty on August 19 and his co-accused admitted the charge 10 days later.

Sentencing the pair at Newport Crown Court yesterday, Judge Rhys Rowlands said: 'There cannot be one rule for society as a whole and another for police officers.

'Police officers are trusted and they are given significant powers. Those who misuse or breach that trust must expect to go to prison.'

Both men were sentenced to four weeks in prison for perverting the course of justice and Emerson-Thomas was sentenced to an additional two weeks for his misuse of the police computer system.